Chaos and dialectics

LEO MEEKS lmeeks at
Sat Nov 19 09:27:51 MST 1994

On Fri, 18 Nov 1994, Huseyin Ozel wrote:

> I agree with this position, but I also think it needs some
> clarification. I believe this passage is not careful about a very
> important distinction, namely the distinction between ontology and
> epistemology. That is, what we know about the world cannot be
> identified with the world itself.
> Therefore, we should distinguish between the dialectics as a real
> process and the dialectics as a method, for they are not reducible
> to each other. In this regard, chaos theory seems to suggest that
> first, ontologically, dialectics may characterize a real process in
> nature, and second, epistemologically, chaos and complexity requires
> a rejection of strict determinism, or more appropriately what Bhaskar
> (again) calls "regularity determinism" which assumes "constant
> conjunctions" between discrete events, by allowing both necessity and
> contingency/accidents (bifurcation etc.), concepts not so distant
> from the idea of dialectics.
> Any comments?
> Huseyin Ozel
> ozel at

I have lifted these arguments from you remarks to comment on the
problematic of a marxist philosophy of science that bends marxism to the
categories of what critical theorists may call an uncritical philosophy
of science.  i am not so sure, for example, that marxism has any commerce
with the regulative concepts of a philosophy of science, for example
epistemology and ontology.  Epistemology implies a substantial subject as
both the subject and object of inquiryand reifies mind as something even
something developmental as an eternal form which happens to be caught
within its worldly appearance. On the other hand a dialectical approach
to the problem of knowledge would discuss mind within an highly mediated
economy of knowledge. This exists not within the bounds of even a
critical epistemology and exists at best at the limit of its discourse.
As for ontology, i am not sure how one can possibly justify marxism as an
ontology, as an attempt to uncover what it is that determines beings as
beings, rather, marxism has always considered itself as a critique of any
attempt to formulate a theory of what it is that is.  Except for Engels'
*Dialectics of Nature* i am not sure why some marxists (down to Sartre's
Critique of Dialectical Reason) participate, not in the philosophy of
science, but actually participate in the positive construction of a
philosophy of science.

Marxism is first of all an economic critique: a critique of economies of
language, the polis, the strictly economic, and so forth.  Marxism cannot
participate in discourse as a positive science and still be critical.
For example the minute marxists cease participation in the social
revolution it devolves into revisionism of some sort.



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